Mission Mode (ミッション?, lit.: "Mission") is an alternate gameplay mode in Pikmin 3. It replaces the Challenge Mode found in previous games. In Mission Mode, the player completes challenges, with three different types existing. Each one has a time limit of between five and fifteen minutes, and awards the player with a ranking based on how well they performed on the mission.
The following rankings exist, and are sorted from worst to best: no medal, bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. The requirements for each ranking vary between stages and mission types. When a level is complete, a quick summary of the objects collected or enemies killed is displayed, and the player is given a final score. The player can then watch a replay of the entire session.
Gameplay in this mode is mostly identical to that of story mode in the way it is controlled, and that the player never starts out with any ultra-spicy sprays, although it is possible to get some via Burgeoning Spiderworts and/or ultra-spicy nectar on certain stages. However, there are a few mission type-specific rules, and there is also the fact that the player always has the Dodge Whistle and none of the other spacesuit upgrades. If a leader loses all of their health or if a Pikmin extinction takes place, the mission is aborted.
There are three types of mission, each with a different objective, scoring system, and rules.
The goal in Collect Treasure! mode is to retrieve as many fruits, treasures, and/or enemy carcasses as possible within a limited amount of time. Players can find Pikmin to use either at the starting point, buried, scattered across the map, hidden below plants in small groups, or inside certain enemies, like the Medusal Slurker. In most missions, there is no Onion, meaning that players cannot grow any more Pikmin than the ones provided throughout the stage, although Twilight Hollow Remix and Beastly Caverns have Onions. For levels with no Onion, any recovered corpses go into the SPERO to exchange for Pokos. When Onions are present, the corpses are instead brought to them to create more Pikmin as well as earn Pokos. Additionally, Beastly Caverns is the only level to have pellets, which will only create more Pikmin and not earn Pokos. Regardless of level, all fruits and treasures are taken to the SPERO to be converted to Pokos. The player's score is based on how many total Pokos were earned. Collecting all objects that can be converted to money in the stage instantly finishes the mission, and the time left is awarded to the player as extra points, with each stage giving a different value per second remaining.
The objective of this mode is to defeat enemies to score points. Each enemy type is worth a certain amount of points; for example, the Swooping Snitchbug holds 30 points. Only a few Pikmin are available on the map, and the player must bring back enemies to the Onion in order to increase their Pikmin army. As such, the player needs a careful balance between combat and reinforcements to be efficient. The enemy's score is instantly added to the score counter the second the enemy dies. Once the timer is up, the points the player gains are counted as their score, but if all enemies are killed, the mission ends right away and the player receives extra points based on the time left.
Missions in this mode require the player to defeat one of the main bosses in the story mode, with a given assortment of Pikmin and time limit. To fight a boss in this mode, it must be defeated in story mode first. The player's medal is determined by the time left over. The Pikmin death count has nothing to do with scoring, but is still shown on the results screen.
There are 36 stages in Mission Mode, counting the ones available as downloadable content. All of them also support 2-player split-screen co-op. Tropical Forest Remix, Tropical Wilds Remix, and Fortress of Festivity are free, and are only added to the game if it is updated. Unlike the Challenge Mode in previous games, this one is available from the start of the game, but certain requirements must be met in order to unlock some stages.
For Pikmin 3 on the Wii U, bosses in Defeat Bosses! mode are only made available once they're defeated in Story Mode for the first time (regardless of collecting their spoils). For the other mission categories, players start out with only one stage available, and they must obtain at least a bronze medal in order to unlock the next stage on the line. For the missions that aren't downloadable content, the previous mission must be beat before the next one can be unlocked.
For Pikmin 3 Deluxe, Defeat Bosses! missions follow the same unlock requirements as before, but for the other categories, the player starts with the first five stages.
Before starting a stage, it is possible to choose between single-player or 2-player co-op mode. In co-op, player 1 is on the left of the screen, while player 2 is on the right of the screen. Player 1 starts the stage as Alph, and player 2 starts as Brittany or Olimar, depending on the stage. If the level has more than two leaders available, either player can switch to the leader that is not being used. Players share sprays, and when one player uses a spray, one will be deducted for both players. Co-op high scores are listed separately from single-player high scores. The "Go Here!" function cannot be used in co-op.
A feature added in Pikmin 3 Deluxe is the "after hours" mode. If the player's time is up when they are playing through a normal mission, they will be sent to the results screen, but a button labeled "Continue" (with an "After Hours" blurb) will be present. Picking this option allows the game to continue where the player left off, but without a goal or a chance to increase the score they got. This allows the player to check out how the rest of their mission would have gone if they hadn't run out of time, so they can better plan for next time, or to just complete the mission without caring for the score.
When the mode is entered, the gameplay resumes from the exact point the player left at, after a brief "Ready... Go!" pause. Everything is the same, except now the music changes to a simple track, the clock present during gameplay is replaced with a pink "After Hours" box, and the timer (now pink) counts up instead of down. This timer has no purpose other than showing to the player how much longer they are taking to complete the mission. The player can now finish the stage like normal, lose, retry the entire mission from the start, or quit from the pause menu. Finishing the stage successfully will bring the results screen up again, the game will tally everything up, and show the player a total score, although this time the results screen makes note that this was in after hours mode, including a blurb that shows how much extra time was needed. This score is not saved and, naturally, this time there is no option to play after hours in.
Players can only enter after hours when they run out of time, so the option isn't present if the goal was met, if a leader was knocked out, or if all Pikmin have been lost. In addition, it is not present during Defeat Bosses! missions, and although the Side Stories game mode is similar to Mission Mode, it does not have after hours. When the player presses the button to enter after hours mode, the game asks if they are sure they wish to continue playing, and reminds them that no record will be saved. Regardless of the player's choice, the game will save the score obtained so far and then proceed to leave or to resume gameplay, depending on the choice. If the player loses the mission during after hours, the game simply marks the stage as played, saves, and returns to the mission category's mission selection menu. But by completing the stage successfully, the game will save when the results screen is left in order to mark the mission as complete, but nothing else. This is useful, for instance, to unlock stages 6 to 10 of a category, since the player needs to have completed stages 1 to 5 first.
Oddly, due to a glitch, playing in handheld mode will result in the rendering resolution to be increased when the game enters after hours mode.
There are five essential rankings for each stage: No ranking, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. No ranking simply means that the player did not get enough points to earn a medal. The criteria for getting medals is different for each game mode, with the points differing every stage. Platinum medals mean that the player has collected all treasure or defeated all enemies before the time limit. Any time after the Platinum medal is acquired will be added as a time bonus to the original score, with a certain amount of additional points per second remaining, that depends on the stage. For Defeat Bosses!, only the time matters, and the quicker a boss is defeated, the better the medal; if it is defeated too late, the player might not receive any medal.
The game keeps track of the five best scores in both single-player and co-op. These scores are only accessible on the results screen at the end of a successful mission, but the top score is available on the screen before the mission begins.
Each medal has a different look based on its ranking and the game mode. The loading screen tips state that each medal gives the player an honorary title, though nothing change in the game whatsoever. In the score tally screen, when a medal is obtained, a Pikmin can also be heard cheering the player. While hard to understand due to the Pikmin's voice, when slowed down, the different voice clips can be figured out. The following table illustrates the medals for all rankings, as well as the title given by the tips and the cheers said by the Pikmin.
The medals are visible on the screen with the mission's briefings. A second medal appears if the challenge was completed in co-op mode. The platinum medals also have the Koppaite text on them, which means "Pikmin platinum".
The fanfare that plays when the player acquires a platinum medal or successfully defeats a boss:
On October 1st, 2013 – during that month's Nintendo Direct – Iwata announced downloadable content for Pikmin 3's Mission Mode. These stages are for Collect Treasure! mode, and Nintendo offers Tropical Forest Remix for free if players update Pikmin 3.
On November 6th, 2013, a second DLC pack was made available for purchase. This DLC consists of five remixed Story mode maps for Battle Enemies! Nintendo offers Tropical Wilds Remix for free if players update Pikmin 3.
On December 2nd, 2013, a third DLC pack became available for purchase. This consists of five stages for Collect Treasure! and Battle Enemies! (totaling in ten levels) and takes place on entirely new areas. Olimar and Louie are playable in stages 13 through 15, but Louie must be rescued before he can be used. Nintendo offers both versions of Fortress of Festivity for free for those who update Pikmin 3.
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